Damian McGinty in Glee
He wowed America on The Glee Project, but things haven't gone so smoothly thereafter
When Derry~Londonderry's Damian McGinty was crowned victorious on the FOX TV talent-spotting series, The Glee Project (along with the dreadlocked American, Samuel Larson), fans of the young singer eagerly anticipated his debut on the parent show, Glee. It turns out that the wait was actually the best part.
McGinty’s resulting character in the tween comedy is Rory Flanagan, who is so broadly an Irish (make that Oirish) stereotype that the Blarney Stone would tell him to tone it down a bit. In the first episode, for instance, in which McGinty featured, his character pretended to be a leprechaun so he could get into thick cheerleader Brittany’s ‘pot o’ gold’.
Then he sang Kermit's ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ in a perambulatory fantasy sequence through the halls of McKinley High School, as red-coated jocks pummelled him mindlessly. The song was good – after all, it was, essentially, McGinty's singing voice that won over the judges on The Glee Project – but it was just so corny.
Cringeworthy as it was, this turned out to be a pretty good introduction to his character. Flanagan’s chief attributes are that he is very, very Irish and a bit thick. He has no idea what ‘this game of dodging balls’ is all about, and asks if trash-talk is ‘when you discuss trash?’. When called upon to actually insult someone, he implies that their family farm has failed.
Perhaps someone should let showrunner Ryan Murphy know that it isn’t the 1850s anymore. America is not a far-off land of milk and honey that the down-trodden Irish hear about through letters.
We have watched American television programmes, Dawson’s Creek and Buffy and the Vampire Diaries. Maybe we don't have a completely accurate idea of the social structure of a standard American high-school, but we get the idea.
Unlike Flanagan, who is consistently dressed in one shade or another, we rarely wear green clothes. Perhaps Flanagan is forever dressed in emerald shades in case the famously fickle American audience forget who he is – a real danger, since he has had nothing much to do since his first appearance.
The prize on The Glee Project was a seven-episode story arc on Glee. Does every episode in McGinty appears count? If so, it hardly seems fair. In his first three episodes, for example, he was a negligible presence to say the least. During a performance of 'The First Time', he got in one barely intelligible line, and didn’t get any in ‘I Kissed a Girl’.
Apparently, at some point, his character will be given an actual storyline, something about home-sickness, if the rumours are to be believed. This viewer isn’t going to be holding her breath.
The shame of it is that Damian McGinty on The Glee Project showed himself to be an engaging, charismatic, obviously talented lad. Yet when Murphy came to create his character, he stripped all that away to leave a collection of broad Irish stereotypes tied up in a green bow.
Do Americans actually think this is what people in Ireland are like? It is how we keep being portrayed on the small screen, certainly. Sons of Anarchy’s much-criticised Belfast arc was just as bad. Worse actually, since at least Glee has not messed around with McGinty’s natural Derry accent too much.
All that said, I hope that McGinty’s final three-episodes live up to expectations. He is, quite clearly, a talented singer and performer. It’s just a shame that they seem to have wasted all that on a one-note novelty character.